You know, I could easily get used to a life like the one I am having for the past few days, being on my seven-day retreat in solitude on the out-of-the-tourist-season Adriatic coast. With our van, of course. Sunny days, calm sea, nobody around (except for a few cats and two or three little fishing boats slowly passing by each day)… The beauty of it all lies in the possibility to simply follow my needs, from one moment to another. Meaning that I sleep a lot, eat when hungry, sit and stare into the horizon for as long as it feels good, do some stretching on the beach when my body desires so, climb my bicycle when my blood feels like moving a bit faster… Sounds like pure Zen, now that I think of it. The absence of pressures, obligations, responsibilities, should and shouldn’ts is just so liberating.
One big part of me totally enjoys this, yet a small part of me misses being with people that I love and longs for reconnecting with them. And, when I am home or when I work, a big part of me enjoys the contact and the connection with people, yet a small part yearns for solitude.
There seems to be this eternal inner conflict, or rather a discrepancy between the two tensions: the first one is to relate, to connect, to have love and friendship and communion and all of that with other human beings, and the other is to back away from everybody and just be free, spontaneous, autonomous, self-caring. Connection means relationship and it limits freedom. Freedom brings isolation and limits connection.
It does not seem to me that one would need to choose between the two (what a relief, actually ). But it does seem that both clusters of needs are of a crucial importance – perhaps not for everybody, but I dare to say that for many of us.
I am happy to notice that I am really in a somewhat ideal position regarding this matter. Through my wife and kids as well as through the work I do I get all the connection and communion I can ever need or wish for. No needs unmet there, no frustration whatsoever. On the other hand, when I need to go somewhere away and be alone, I again have all support possible. Kids are totally cool with it, and my wife, my dearest wife, she is so supportive that I am afraid I will never be able to equally reciprocate.
But I do need to be careful while juggling with these needs: be with myself, be with my wife, be with my kids, be with my friends, try to do a meaningful contribution through my work… If I start neglecting one, I soon start feeling entrapped, frustrated… It is really all about balance, isn’t? Juggling and balancing, this is what personal growth seems to be about.
It was me & kids a few weeks ago, now it is me & myself, and we already plan to do a me & my wife weekend off soon… And in between I work a bit, which covers the me & everybody part.
Life’s not that complicated, after all.